Ashley Gross

Business and Labor Reporter

Ashley Gross is KPLU's business and labor reporter, covering everything from Amazon.com and Boeing to garbage strikes. She joined the station in May 2012 after working for five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.

She studied history at Brown University and earned a master's in international affairs at Columbia University. She grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She lives in West Seattle with her husband and two sons.

One of Ashley's most memorable moments in radio happened several years ago in Northwest Alaska: "I was visiting an alcohol and drug rehab program in the tiny village of Selawik. It helps Alaska Natives recover by helping them get back in touch with their subsistence lifestyle. It was spring, which meant the river was still frozen - barely. We went out on snowmachines to go ice-fishing, but late in the day, as we headed back, the river had melted to the consistency of a Slurpee. It was a harrowing ride and a good lesson in trust - I rode with my eyes closed, clinging for dear life to the woman driving. A week later, three people drowned trying to ride a snowmachine over that river, and that's when I realized just how dangerous life in rural Alaska can be."

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Business
9:45 pm
Thu September 25, 2014

Council Member Sawant Criticizes Murray’s Affordable Housing Committee

File image
Elaine Thompson Associated Press

Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant is criticizing Mayor Ed Murray’s newly created affordable housing committee, saying the group is skewed toward developers with not enough low-income housing advocates.

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Politics
8:44 pm
Mon September 22, 2014

King County Executive Proposes Budget That Would Cut More Than 500 Jobs

King County Executive Dow Constantine
King County WA Flickr

The economy in King County is booming, but county government is planning to cut more than 500 jobs to balance its budget. King County Executive Dow Constantine says the problem is that state laws restrict the ability of local government to raise taxes to keep up with growth. 

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Subsidized Housing
5:00 am
Mon September 15, 2014

Seattle Public Housing Residents Face The Possibility Of Big Rent Hikes

Many residents of public housing in Seattle are facing the possibility of steep rent hikes. They’ll have a chance this week at two public hearings to voice their concerns about the Seattle Housing Authority’s plan.

Seattle Housing Authority provides subsidized housing for about 13,000 low-income households. The agency sets the rent at 30 percent of the tenant’s income. But now, SHA is proposing to raise rent every couple of years. By the sixth year, it would have jumped more than fivefold. People with disabilities, the elderly and people under the age of 24 would be exempt.

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Business & Labor
4:27 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

Railroad Workers Reject BNSF Plan To Have Single-Employee Train Crews

Loco Steve Flickr

A union representing railroad conductors and switchmen has rejected a plan from BNSF Railway to operate some freight trains with a single employee. Many union members said the proposal raised serious safety concerns. 

BNSF runs important routes throughout the Pacific Northwest, from British Columbia to Portland and across the country.

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Business & Labor
4:33 pm
Tue September 9, 2014

Sequim, Shelton Reject Initiatives That Would Limit The Power Of Public Employee Unions

Battles over labor law are usually the stuff of Congress or state legislatures. But a conservative group says people who want to reduce the power of public employee unions should take matters into their own hands and change laws, city by city.

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Change
9:40 am
Mon September 8, 2014

Photographer Documents Gentrification In Seattle’s Rainier Beach Neighborhood

Zac Davis Photography

Zac Davis has lived all around the Puget Sound region — Issaquah, Bellevue, Bremerton, Bainbridge Island. But about six years ago, he moved to Seattle’s Rainier Beach neighborhood.

He was drawn to the vibrancy of the area, pulsing with different languages and cultures. He describes this as we walk down the street, past African women with their heads covered and moving smoothly in their long robes.

“In my cul-de-sac alone, there’s probably four languages spoken, and yet we manage to have a block party every summer,” he said. “It makes us stronger.”

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Labor Dispute
3:47 pm
Fri September 5, 2014

Tentative Contract For Home Care Workers Would Give Them $14 Per Hour In Two Years

The union that represents about 33,000 independent home care workers in Washington says it has reached a tentative contract with the state that would boost their average hourly pay to more than $14 by the beginning of 2017. 

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Politics
12:37 pm
Wed September 3, 2014

U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan Stepping Down After Five Years

FILE - Western Washington U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan, right, addresses a news conference on police reforms in the city as Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, center, and interim Police Chief Harry Bailey look on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

Cybercriminals, terrorists, white collar bankers - U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan has taken on all of them in her five years on the job in Western Washington. Now, she says she’s stepping down at the end of the month after holding the post for five years.

She was among the first six U.S. attorneys nominated by President Barack Obama in May 2009 and was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in September 2009.

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Business
5:00 am
Wed September 3, 2014

Has Microsoft’s Tax Policy Hurt Washington State’s Ability To Pay For Schools?

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to clarify the timeline of when Microsoft opened its Nevada office and when the state lowered its royalty tax. The updated version also adds that Microsoft declined to say how much state royalty tax the company has paid.

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Labor Union
6:04 am
Mon September 1, 2014

Lawsuit Challenges Automatic Deduction Of Union Dues For Home Care Workers In Wash.

The Service Employees International Union Healthcare 775 Northwest represents about 33,000 independent home care workers in Washington state. Their union dues are automatically deducted by the state of Washington, which pays the workers using public money, including Medicaid funds.

But a lawsuit is challenging that arrangement, drawing on the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision (Harris v. Quinn), and that potentially threatens the union's financial strength. 

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Labor Negotiations
4:14 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Alaska Air Flight Attendants Frustrated By Slow Contract Talks

Flight attendants protest outside Alaska's shareholders meeting in May, 2013.
Ashley Gross

Alaska Airlines executives and flight attendants are back at the bargaining table this week with a federal mediator, but the workers say they’re frustrated by the slow pace of contract negotiations which have dragged on for almost three years. 

Union leaders and the company did reach a tentative deal late last year, but members rejected it.

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Economy
9:39 am
Wed August 27, 2014

Report: Washington's Low-Income Residents Are Disproportionately Burdened By Debt

Low-income residents Washington state are disproportionately burdened by debt, according to a new report by the grassroots advocacy group Alliance for a Just Society. 

One reason: increasing student loan debt. The report says the average student loan debt at graduation in Washington jumped 23 percent from 2008 to 2012 to a total of more than $23,000. And the average credit card debt in the state is more than $5,000.

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Artscape
5:00 am
Mon August 25, 2014

One Poet's Vision To Celebrate The Beauty — And The Warts — Of Tacoma

Tacoma's poet laureate, Lucas Smiraldo
Ashley Gross KPLU

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Business
12:17 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

Steve Ballmer Resigns From Microsoft Board, Saying He'll Be Busy As New Clippers Owner

FILE - In this Aug. 18, 2014 file photo, new Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer speaks during a news conference held after the Clippers Fan Festival in Los Angeles.
Jae C. Hong AP Photo

Former Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer is leaving the board of the software company he led for 14 years.

In a letter released on Microsoft's website, Ballmer said he has confidence in new CEO Satya Nadella, and he has no plans to sell his shares in the "foreseeable future." Ballmer said he holds more shares than anyone other than index funds. 

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Veterans' Needs
3:39 pm
Fri August 15, 2014

Puget Sound VA Says It's Making Progress In Reducing Its Waitlist For Primary Care

The head of the VA Puget Sound Health Care System, Michael Murphy, says the agency is making progress in getting veterans in to see a primary care doctor, but he says there’s still a lot more work to do to improve care for veterans in this region. 

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